The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the assessment scheme propounded by both CBSE and CISCE for evaluation of Class 12 students, whose board examinations have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top court rejected the objections raised by a parents' body as well as students and said that it is not possible to have a second guess approach with regard to various aspects of the assessment scheme.
“We hold that there is no reason to interfere with the Scheme propounded by the CBSE or ICSE. Notably, there is other set of students represented by different counsel who have unreservedly supported the Schemes under consideration and do not want any interference therewith,” said a special bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari.
“More so, we find that the stated Schemes are fair and reasonable and take into account concerns of all students and is in larger public interest,” the bench added.
The bench also noted the submission of Attorney General K K Venugopal, assisting the court in individual capacity and also appearing for the Centre, that University Grants Commission (UGC) will issue directives to all the colleges and varsities that admissions be made after the declaration of results by all the boards -- Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and state boards.
The top court, which dealt with all the major objections of the interveners -- Uttar Pradesh Parents' Association, and second compartment and private students -- said the scheme propounded cannot be doubted on the mere apprehension of manipulation of marks by the CBSE schools to favour their own students.
The bench rejected the submission of senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for UP Parents Association, Lucknow, that option to students for external examination as given in the CBSE's scheme should be offered at the very initial stage to both the school and the students and the results should be declared together.
It said, “We are of the considered opinion that tweaking the Scheme in any manner, as propounded by the two Boards would result in denial of one option to the students and also delay the declaration of results indefinitely. There would be uncertainty until the examination for improvisation is actually conducted and results are declared”.
The bench said that on the other hand, if the students are given the option of accepting the internal assessment marks, the results could be declared before July 31, 2021, and despite declaration of those results, they may still have the option of appearing in the examination for improvisation, if they so choose to.
“It is worthwhile to note that somewhat similar scheme was adopted in the previous academic year and the body of students accepted the internal assessment results. Hardly, 10 students from ICSE and 15,000 from CBSE availed of the option to appear in the examination for improvisation of marks,” it said.
The bench also dealt with the objection of Singh that the past performance of three years of the students is being reckoned for internal assessment in the scheme propounded by CBSE, which in his view, is unfair and irrational.
The bench said that it agrees with the submission canvassed by Venugopal that the scheme is a composite one and has been formulated by the expert body which was appointed by the Board consisting of thirteen members.
It noted Venugopal's submission that all aspects have been taken into account by the expert body on the basis of which the final decision to cancel the examination was taken, including formulation of the scheme to have holistic approach and to ensure that no candidate/student is prejudiced.
The bench said that instead, the Scheme intends to rationalize the internal assessment performance and bring semblance of parity amongst the assessment of different schools.
“This exercise will be undertaken by a broad-based Result Committee. It is, therefore, not open to us to have a second look as suggested by Vikas Singh. We would instead uphold the Scheme as propounded by the respective Boards, which, are independent and autonomous bodies and entitled to take their own decision with regard to the affairs of conducting examination by them,” the bench said.
It said that on the submission that the results be declared on the same date to avoid students missing the opportunity in admissions to colleges, the Attorney General has made statement on instructions that UGC will direct all universities to commence the process of admissions after declaration of results by all the boards.
The top court also dealt with the submission that there is possibility of CBSE schools manipulating the records as the relevant data on the basis of which internal assessment is to be done is not in the custody or in possession of the board.
“Even this submission does not commend to us. We find force in the argument canvassed by learned Attorney General for India that the broad-based Result Committee would examine all aspects of the matter and take decision on the basis of registers maintained by the concerned schools, and inspected by the competent authority. On the basis of such vague apprehension, the Scheme as has been propounded cannot be doubted,” it said.
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